U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra is defending a campaign ad that ran during the Super Bowl portraying a Chinese woman in broken English in a rice field.
“We knew we were taking an aggressive approach on this,” said Hoekstra in a conference call Monday morning.
The ad refers to Hoekstra’s opponent, U. S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, as “Debbie Spend-It-Now.” The actress in the 30-second ad thanks Stabenow, a Democrat, for helping the Chinese economy with her policies. She speaks in broken English over the sound of Asian-style music. China is never mentioned directly.
“Your economy get very weak, our economy get very strong,” the actress said in the ad.
Hoekstra's campaign website has similar images.
In a separate conference call this morning, Stabenow tried to shift the focus away from the negativity of the ad.
"I think that Pete Hoekstra should be very embarassed about this ad and its divisiveness," said Stabenow.
In publications across the country, Asian groups have referred to the ad as racist.
Hoekstra said the ad was only meant to highlight bad Washington spending.
“The ad is very insensitive to Debbie Stabenow and her spending,” Hoekstra.
Hoekstra, a Republican from Holland, was a congressman for 18 years. Critics highlight his own record, including his votes to raise the debt ceiling while he was on the budget committee. Hoekstra said it was something he did in the middle of a war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’m not going to cut off support for our troops,” said Hoekstra.
Hoekstra is launching his statewide “Spent It NOT” tour beginning in Birmingham today.